Dental health is an essential part of general well-being. A healthy mouth and teeth will help you speak, eat, and smile with confidence. However, poor oral hygiene habits and inadequate dental care can lead to severe dental problems, including periodontitis. Known as the silent killer of teeth, periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that affects billions of people worldwide. Let’s zoom in on the causes and treatments of periodontitis.
Causes of Periodontitis
Periodontitis is caused by bacteria that infect the spaces between teeth and gums. The bacteria cause inflammation, leading to redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums. If left untreated, the inflammation can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, leading to the formation of pockets. The pockets then become infected, causing bone loss and eventual tooth loss. Poor oral hygiene is the leading cause of periodontitis. Other risk factors include smoking, genetics, diabetes, and local factors like dental restorations that might be difficult to clean. Periodontitis increases with age, as the mouth has had more exposure time to these risk factors.
The symptoms of periodontitis include red, swollen, and tender gums, bad breath, bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, and pus-filled pockets around the gums. If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment of periodontitis can prevent tooth loss and improve overall dental health. Periodontitis also significantly influences your general health, increasing the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, and dementia.
The treatment of periodontitis depends on the severity of the disease. In mild or early cases, your dentist may recommend a deeper professional cleaning called scaling and root planing. Scaling involves the removal of plaque and tartar from the surface of teeth, while root planing involves smoothing the roots of teeth to prevent further bacterial growth. In severe cases, your dentist may recommend surgical treatments such as flap surgery and bone grafting. Flap surgery involves temporarily pushing the gums to the side to clean the hardest to reach areas. Bone grafting involves the placement of donor or animal bone to regenerate the bone you have lost. After initial therapy, your dentist may recommend professional maintenance cleanings up to four times per year. The twice-per-year guideline actually came from a 1920s Pepsodent tooth powder advertisement and was not evidence-based. Individual needs vary among patients.
Preventing periodontitis requires a commitment to your dental health. You can prevent periodontitis by practicing good oral hygiene habits such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily, using mouthwash, and visiting your dentist regularly. Avoiding smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Periodontitis is a severe and surprisingly common form of gum disease that can lead to general health problems and tooth loss if left untreated. Minimize your risk with good oral hygiene habits, avoiding smoking, and visiting your dentist regularly. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent tooth loss and improve overall health. At Southern Colorado Periodontics & Implants in Colorado Springs, we specialize in providing a full range of periodontal care. Do you suffer from or think you might have periodontitis? Book a periodontal checkup or periodontal exam with us today.